Now I’ve been looking forward to Bandai Namco’s horror puzzle-platformer for a while now, ever since playing the demo at EGX. When someone tells me a game is coming out in a control style I enjoy and then tells me, on top of that, that it’s basically set in Bioshock’s Rapture, then I’m going to be hyped for it.
Now the reason I bring this up is because I am not much of a critic but when I’ve been looking forward to a game this much then my standards are going to be pretty high.
Yet even with these high expectations to meet, I have played Little Nightmares to completion twice now today.
I found it that good.
So, let me get down to saying why exactly I thought Little Nightmares is a fantastic game.
Little Nightmares does not hold hands when it comes to storytelling. Within ten seconds of being in the game you already have control of your character and are left to your own devices to figure out the story. Players who care about it can take their time figuring it out from the scenery, pacing, and characters, whereas people who are more gameplay focused can blitz the game without obstructive, unskippable cut scenes. Albiet, this doesn’t work for all games. Some games need the story to thrive, and others don’t need them at all, but here, it works perfectly. The environment is rich and allows for exploration, not locking the player into a set path that they must immediately follow. Exploring is often rewarded with collectables, but not so many that the player feels overwhelmed to collect them all. In my two playthroughs I could piece together my own interpretation of the story as I went along, each time finding more clues to what is going on. I can see this game having many competing theories of stories between players, many potentially involving Marxism (but that’s a topic for another time).
Secondly, the atmosphere is intense and the monster design is reminiscent of Silent Hill, another one of my long standing favourite franchises and another reason I am attached to this game. The creatures of the game are downright disturbing, and the design works perfectly with shadows and sound to keep you on the edge of your seat. The horror is also very effective as a driving force through the game. From the start, you just want to escape. The contradicting environment also emphasises this, every part of the background is larger than life, intimidating and looming, but it manages to bring an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. This may be down to the setting; the ship is enclosed and gives the idea of something to be escaped.
All in all I’d give this game a solid 8/10 with the lacking points coming from issues I had with controls and the lack of multiple endings. This issues I had with controls was that they seemed clunky and sometimes cost me that split second I needed to get away from enemies. This wasn’t much player error though and I think the game could be accessible to people on a wide spectrum of controller skill. The multiple ending gripe is just a personal thing, I felt that the game could have benefited from having the choices you made in collectables affecting endings. However, it could be argued that changing the ending could undermine the feeling of helplessness that the game puts you in. Either way it’s not something I will let stand in the way of my experience.